January 10 I Sunday
“If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God have discovered it, since He knows the secrets of the heart?” —Psalm 44:20-21
The prophet Jeremiah probably had the toughest job in the entire Old Testament. He was called by God to preach for forty years and was told that he would never see a single convert. But on top of that, Jeremiah was told by God not to pray: “Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with Me, for I will not listen to you” (Jeremiah 7:16). In fact, this command is repeated again in Jeremiah 11:14 and 14:11.
Why would God not only prohibit Jeremiah from praying, but also turn His ear away from their plea or petition? Jeremiah 11:17 tells us, “…because the people of both Israel and Judah have done evil and aroused My anger by burning incense to Baal.” God had a problem with the Israelites because they had turned from Him and were worshipping a false god.
Jeremiah began his ministry when Judah seemed to be going through a kind of spiritual revival with King Josiah on the throne. Before Josiah, his grandfather Manasseh was one of the most evil kings in Judah. He installed pagan gods in the temple and practiced witchcraft, sorcery and divination, even sacrificing his own sons to pagan gods. After him, his son, Amon, came to the throne, but was assassinated in two years. Josiah was only eight when he became king and during the eighteenth year of his reign, the Book of the Law was discovered. 2 Kings 22:11 tells us, “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” Josiah acknowledged, “Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book” (2 Kings 22:13).
Josiah was grieved by the fact the people had not been obeying what God had commanded. He organized a huge celebration of the Passover, sacrificing over 41,000 lambs, goats and cattle. The people of Israel had not observed the Passover since the days of the prophet Samuel. Everybody was enthusiastic of the reform except for one man.
Jeremiah went up to the temple and pointed to the fact that this spiritual revival was superficial because the Israelites were still worshipping false gods thinking, “We are safe.” But God called them out, “Safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears My Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!” (Jeremiah 7:10-11). God sees the heart of His worshippers. He turns His ear from their prayers because they are not worshipping Him genuinely. Does God have our true devotion?
Prayer: Dear Almighty God, do not let me deceive myself, but honestly give You my true devotion. Teach me to follow after Your commands. Thank You, God.